Your Quest: Cheapest MAME cabinet: Part 1, decisions.
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NOTE: While this is probably the cheapest way to a MAME interface, I ended up with getting a simpler J-PAC for wiring. Read my post about configuring Ubuntu to run inside the an arcade cab here!
I'm possibly buying a house soon. Naturally, the first thing on my mind is putting a stand-up arcade machine in the place. While I ended up buying a proper JAMMA cabinet, this post describes my original plan to build a MAME cabinet.
- Stand-up. No bar-top machines
- Two-player, only interact via arcade buttons & joystick
- Should support NES, SNES, SEGA, and old-school MAME titles
|JAMMA Cabinet (used)||$200?||Comes with buttons,speakers,screen||Hard to find, heavy to ship, custom monitor|
|DIY MDF Cabinet||$100-$150 inc. buttons||Can make lighter, smaller, thinner||More work, need to paint & trim, need buttons|
ButtonsFor buttons, I was originally going to go with a la carte parts from SparkFun until I ran into this ebay deal: 2 joysticks & 14 buttons for $34 + shipping! Much cheaper!
But how to wire up the buttons / joystick? Depends on our choice of brain.
BrainFor the brain I have 3 free choices: XBOX, Wii, or old PC. While software-wise they could be considered equivalent I am tempted to sell my Xbox, keep the Wii on the TV, and use an old PC. More on this decision later.
|PC||Hard-soldered to a USB keyboard||will be cheap||Lots of fine solder work to do|
|XBOX||hand-soldered to two xbox contollers||FREE!||Again, lots of fine, custom, solder work to do. If it breaks then I have to go in and fix by hand.|
|Wii||Arduino-based classic controller emulation||Most elegant solution||Even more DIY work, most expensive, have to hack wired power to wiimotes|
Since I have a purposeless xbox, and plenty controllers, maybe that's the best bet? The work will be to wire up all the buttons to ripped apart controllers, then pack it all into a box and expose the wires with a nice little screw-post connector.
7 buttons per controller gives me, looking at an xbox controller, all I need.
I think I will go with 6 buttons + 1 1p/2p button each player. That works for SNES and SEGA as well as the lesser MAME arcade games as well. Excellent!
Still to be determined: Screen, speakers, painting, etc, etc. However it is exciting to think the current total cost is around $50 + MDF/screws.